Between Stitches 2018 Wrap-up

Last January, I challenged myself to post once a month about all things in my life that I don’t normally share here any longer. I didn’t think I would actually meet the challenge and went into it knowing that I would likely fall off after a few months. So, no one would be more surprised than me to find that I did in fact meet the challenge! Obviously, my December post is rolling out a few days late as I write this on the first day of the new year, but I showed up and that counts for something.

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This month was what you would expect, really. Crazy holiday madness, feeling like the month slipped by faster than ever, and enjoying some vacation time from work and school. I ordered a 9 foot artificial tree (we have had natural trees for years, but with the holiday schedule this year, it just wasn’t logical), and I had one hell of a time getting the lights strung on that baby. Hubs took pics and video for posterity as I sweat and panted going round and round, on and off the step stool. It was a bit like hell, really. I also got to see my hubby and his mom roll out dozens of Hungarian cookies which was equal parts sweet and charming. I took time off from all work which I never do, and I got to have lunch with my editor AGAIN. I also picked out some new frames for the first time in a few years, so I’ll have a new face for 2019.

The big thing, personally, is that my mom and I found my grandmother’s recorder and a few tiny tapes with names scrawled on them. The one we were looking for had my great-grandmother and her younger brother telling the story of coming to America. Against all odds, we found it! There are some really interesting bits about coming to a country and no one speaking your language, starting school, and there horrible 21 day trip by ship across the Atlantic. However, there were two stories that had us all cracking up. First was the story of my great-grandmother seeing ice cream cones for the first time. She said she was horrified because she couldn’t understand why people in America were walking around licking boiled eggs. The second was a story from before leaving their tiny farming town in Sicily. She asked her brother, “Do you remember that little chicken we had? Carmelo hit it with a rock and we thought it was going to die — it was going around and around — but it didn’t! It lived! But then all of its feather’s fell out and our mother made a dress for it.” He replied, “Oh ya, I do remember a chicken in a dress!” It was so funny listening because I’m thinking, OH (yay) a little chicken! OH (no) got hit with a rock and was gonna die!? OH (yay) it lived! OH (no) all the feathers fell out? OH (cute!) it wore a mama made dress! What an emotional roller coaster! The sobering bits included her hesitation for talking about the boat which she said was so horrible she didn’t want to remember it, and when they first arrived at their apartment which was in terrible disrepair and she wanted to know why they had to come to this horrible place (America). On the same tape, I found a six-year-old me singing jingle bells but the best part was my grandmother saying, “That was Courtney Jacobs singing Jingle Bells. She is six years old and it is December 1988.”

Since gran just passed in September, it was really nice hearing her voice when she was so young. You can actually hear how radiant she was — it beamed through that scratchy little speaker. My great-gran passed just before I had Alizah and her voice was so distinct and easy to pick out even after all this time. However, I will admit, I scoured those tapes for even just a hint of my papa’s voice. I haven’t heard it in 30 years and I couldn’t remember it at all. There was a single tape with “JACK” printed on the label. Papa went by Jack rather than Angelo and I excitedly hit play but it was a tour guide talking. It was weird and I could hear my grandmother’s laugh, but no Jack. I went forward and back, but it was just more of this tour or booming music that sounded like it was in the lobby of a hotel. Disappointed, I rewound to the very beginning and hit play. “This is a test… this is NOT a test. Jeanette Calicchio Carmela Russo….” It was him. Him being a smart-ass, messing with my gran.

I wanted to do a bit of a year re-cap for December’s Between Stitches soooo….. here are links to all of the Between Stitches posts:

JANUARY//FEBRUARY//MARCH//APRIL//MAY//JUNE//JULY//AUGUST//SEPTEMBER//OCTOBER//NOVEMBER

I would like to say I’ll be continuing this in 2019 (and I very well might!!) but it is going to be a very full year, packed with work and new things that are super exciting.

Here are just a couple things you can watch for from Pink Brutus Knits in 2019:

  1. I have another design that will be published in the January issue of Taproot Mag — it’s so big and so lovely! I’ll be posting more about that very soon.

  2. My new book is scheduled for release this August, so you can expect to see some teasers this summer as we prepare for launch!

  3. I will be hosting my first ever KAL as part of the book launch (and I’m pretty pumped about it).

  4. I’ve designed a pattern for L'écheveau solidaire which will launch in the fall so stay tuned after the book launch for more info on that.

  5. My Instagram is going full business mode. All of my family, friend, pet, life stuff will be over at my personal account for friends and family only. This is something I’ve wrestled with all year and finally decided to do it so that I can share things for those I know IRL that I don’t necessarily feel comfortable sharing publicly. That’s more of a change that will impact my life and not any of yours, but if you are wondering what happened all of my non-work related pics, there you have it!

  6. There is more still, like possible class offerings, but so much of that is still in the early phases and I don’t have much to share just yet.

I’m looking forward to all the potential the year of the Pig has and I’m ready to hold on tight for the ride. Wishing the same for all of you!!

Between Stitches Novmber 18

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As usual, the closer we get to the end of the year, the faster the days slip past. November was no different - my birthday month, celebrating my 38 trip around the sun - which was also my 1 year anniversary of not washing my hair. AND, as usual, I feel that pull to cut my hair. I don’t really know why the cold months push me into wanting to cut rather than grow; it’s so counter-intuitive. I asked the husband what he thought and he dodged the question like a bullet! No way in hell was he going to open his big mouth and make a comment about my appearance that might backfire in his face (he’s learned much about women in his lifetime HA!) I knew he was keeping a safe distance from possible wrath, but I really did want to know. Alas, he was no help so I asked Mae. She is really into growing her hair now that she has — NO BALD SPOTS — which is something worth celebrating, and she was extremely against even the possibility that I would cut my hair an inch. Those two… no help at all. I guess I’m still on the fence so… psht. However, I did start oiling my hair more heavily this month — three days a week or so I’ve been working the good ole’ argan oil through the locks and they have transformed from dry, brittle strands (split ends galore here!) to soft, glossy locks. Maybe this dry winter air is just bananas right now.

Hubs had a week+ off work this month which is a funny thing. The girls and I live lives that he really gets to be very little part of usually. He works his ass off so that I can be home with them (driving to the east side to get Mae to and from school is seriously a job though, right?) and that means working shifts that have him out the door before the girls are home from school and working 10-14 hours a night. The girls really only see him a couple days a week and hubs has asked if people think I’m a single mom since I’m always attending school functions and teacher meetings alone. The girls and I just have our little routines and I often say I’m the sun because everything and everyone in the house seems to revolve around me. Not to say I’m really in control or play a starring role, just that I’m there in the middle like a little gravitational anchor in the family system. I think it became apparent to hubs the other day just how out of the system he usually is when he was at home and the big kid texted me that she was leaving while I was out. He texted me to ask if I knew where she was going because she didn’t say anything to him. What I’m getting at is that his introduction to the system takes getting used to for all of us. Of course, once we all become accustomed to his presence in our daily routines, he goes back to work and we feel the empty space his presence filled for that short time. The best part of this time of the year though is that he takes most of his vacation days around the holiday so …. mid December, he’s ours again.

I’ve been watching one of our nieces and one of our nephews a little bit this month, too. I got out of the all-the-time-on-the-schedule-kid-watching game a long time ago, but it is nice to have little ones around the house occasionally. Hubs is more in the we-raised-our-kids-and-deserve-some-peace phase, which I’m certainly starting to get on board with, but we talked through it and both made some compromises. As in, I promised to not over promise and he promised not to be pissy about it HA! I will say though, there were no kids under 10 at thanksgiving and it was extremely pleasant.

We also got my grandparent’s display case in the house finally. I was already feeling a bit emotional on that particular day, really missing gran, and as I started to pull all of my little treasures from hidden boxes and bags around the house to place in the case, all the feelings came rolling out. Hubs asked what was going on and all I could say was that I made a mistake through choked sobs and sniffles. He smiled and hugged me and said I was very lucky to have all of these things. He’s right. I know he’s right. I’ve saved some of these things, carrying them with me for 30 years which is really sort of crazy. I think the hardest part was placing my papa’s hat and patch on the top shelf next to a picture of us - him in his uniform shirt and me in his hat as always. I told hubs that the hat has such raw emotional attachment for me because every day he came home for lunch or dinner and he would walk in and pop that hat on my head. It was our ritual. My grandmother fought the police department to keep that hat for me when he passed. Ugh. He and I had a lot of rituals. He took me to Dunkin Donuts and I would order a cinnamon and a coconut doughnut (and I would eat them both) while he drank his black coffee. I have never been able to eat a cinnamon or coconut doughnut since from that place because it makes me tear up just thinking about it. We also had apple eating contests and I haven’t eaten a red delicious since either. A couple weeks ago the girls both wanted Portillo’s for dinner, so I ordered it. About three bites in I paused and looked at Mae who was happily chowing on her Italian beef and I told her I missed gran. She paused and looked back at me. “I miss her too.” I think I officially can’t eat Portillo’s without crying now. I really connect food with mourning. Is that a thing?

On a lighter note…. Mae helped me re-work the colors of the PBK logo. She said those were more “mom colors” as in, the colors around the house, that I wear, etc. I agree. What do you think?

Oddly, I’m really on board with the holidays this year, too. It’s a rare thing for me since I’m normally just stressed out and miserable the entire time. I don’t love commercialism and how inescapable is is this time of year, I don’t love that everyone is supposed to be joyful, I don’t like people griping about snow every single day except Christmas… the whole thing just rubs me wrong. This year I’m feeling the advent calendar and the string lights and the mound of gifts I already have wrapped and ready to go. Bring on the eggnog and peppermint!! Alizah wanted a menorah last year and we never got one, but I think I’ll make that happen for her. Growing up, we never celebrated Hanukkah because both sides of my family just celebrated Christmas together at gran’s.

The other big news of the month is sort of knitting related — but, I got to meet my editor in real life! She is actually from Indy and was home for the holiday so we met for coffee and spent 3 HOURS talking about work and life and all that jazz. This whole book writing thing has been a complete roller coaster and I was hesitant about getting back in the saddle with the second book. Things have been so different this time around though, and I’ve been so different this time around, but you know how it goes… all is well and you wait for the other shoe to drop. Well, I thought it happened when I met my interim deadline, then was up against my final deadline and I still had heard no word from my editor. I thought surely things were going to be a disaster and then, it happened… I got a message from my acquisitions editor that my editor was no longer working on the book (?) or with the company (?) I don’t really remember now, but what I did know for sure then was that I had no editor, right? So, they hired this new lady and she was going to be my person now. Of course, I called my mom to gripe and she said, “But you don’t know… this new editor might be amazing! She might be way better than the other one and this could be a blessing.” And you know what? She was right. This was the biggest blessing ever (and she sent me a sneak peek of the models — hello! These ladies are exactly what I was dreaming of).

One more Between Stitches next month… Maybe I’ll do something special. See you then! xo